Talisker distillery

Talisker is among the most popular and recognizable of Scotland’s island whiskies. With its unique maritime character, Talisker delights fans worldwide. Talisker combines the boisterous peat smoke and salty aromas with a pleasant spicy sweetness. Thanks to this harmony of savagery and gentleness, Talisker stands for many connoisseurs for the almost perfect Scotch whisky and while the distillery has a range of offerings the Talisker 10 years is the clear flagship.

The Isle of Skye is the northernmost and with 1656 km² also the largest island of the Inner Hebrides, which lie off the northwest coast of Scotland. Not least because Skye is now connected to the mainland by the Skye Bridge, the island is one of Scotland’s most visited destinations. Due to numerous deep coastal cuts, the inhabited by about 9,000 people island has a truly ragged appearance. At one of these “fjords”, the Loch Harport on the west coast of Skye, lies the whiskey distillery Talisker. Talisker is one of the island (highland) whiskies and internationally one of the most popular smoky whiskies. Until the establishment of Torabhaig distillery in 2017 Talisker was the Islands lone distillery.

How does Talisker Single Malt Whisky taste? Like a number of other distilleries in Scotland, Talisker has a unique character, the Island distillery is characterized by its clear, but not overly dominant peat smoke aromas. These are usually supplemented with a skillful balance of maritime salty and sweet flavors. Likewise, Talisker is known for the so-called “Chili Catch” a spicy sharpness in the finish, which does not come as often from the youth of whisky, but from the distillery character. Thus, Talisker combines a variety of tastes under one roof going some way to explain it’s worldwide fan base.

The tiny port Carbost on the precipitous southwestern shore of Loch Harport was from 1830 home to the Talisker distillery. The distillery took its name from the nearby Talisker House, which was the local seat of the famous MacLeods clan. For a long time, the clan MacLeod owned the whole island. Hugh and Kenneth MacAskill founded the distillery. And they did their job so well that the whisky soon became famous far beyond the borders of Skye. It soon proved to be a bestseller and as early as 1886, the annual production amounted to no less than 40,000 gallons of Talisker. The famous English writer Robert Louis Stevenson, the author of “Treasure Island” was certainly aware of this success as he described Talisker as “the king of drinks” in his poem “The Scotsman’s Return From Abroad”. An honor that no other whisky ever received!

This celebrity, however, could not prevent Talisker from sharing the fate of virtually all Scottish distilleries and changing hands repeatedly. In 1925, DCL (Distiller Company Ltd.) took over the helm at Talisker. Subsequently, Talisker and DCL became property of Guinness, which was taken over by Diageo. Talisker became part of the world’s largest spirits company, and became part of the famous “Classic Malts Selection”. Diageo undertook major renovations at the distillery. In 1960, Talisker caught fire and large parts of the buildings were destroyed. Two years later, the distillery was reopened. The Visitor Center still commemorates this incident today “Out of the fire came Talisker”. As so often, the Scots make a virtue out of necessity. Since then, Talisker has been one of Skye’s premier attractions and is one of Scotland’s most-visited whisky distilleries.

Talisker factsheet

Name Pronounced AKA Region Country of Origin
Talisker TAL*is*kur Highlands Scotland
Status Active Whisky Type Website Tours Available
Active 1830 - Present Malt Talisker Tour Link
Manager Distiller Blender Owned by Parent Group
Mark Lochhead, Maureen Robinson Diageo

Talisker Timeline:

1825: The Hugh & Kenneth MacAskill brothers, sons of the local doctor leased Talisker House a bit further from the present location of the distillery.

1830: The current Talisker was built by the brothers Hugh & Kenneth MacAskill

1848: Bankruptcy of the MacAskill brothers, a bank takes control of the Talisker Distillery. This is followed by 30 years of uncertainty with multiple owners

1854: Kenneth MacAskill dies

1863: Hugh dies and the son-in-law Roland takes over the business and soon afterwards declares bankruptcy.

1880: Roderick Kemp and Alexander Allen take over the business and bring the production up to date and expand it.

1890: A jetty (pier) is built over which the filled barrels can be quickly and easily brought to the waiting ships for transport

1892: Roderick Kemp sells his shares to buy the Macallan distillery in the Speyside

1894: The Talisker Distillery Ltd is founded

1895: The business partner of the late Allen, Thomas Mackenzie, takes over the business

1898: Talisker Dstillery Ltd. merge with Dailuaine under Dailuaine- Talisker Distilleries Ltd. Th group also includes the Imperial distillery

1916: After Mackenzie passed away, a group of big blending companies comprised of ohn Walker & Sons, John Dewar, WP Lowrie, and the mighty Distillers Company Limited (DCL) take over control of the distillery

1928: The distillery abandons triple distillation is abandoned.

1960: A large fire destroys the production of Talisker and production halts for two years

1962: Production resumes

1972: The on site floor maltings are abandoned and relocated to Glen Ord on the mainland, all stills are upgraded to steamheating

1987: Talisker comes under the control of the UDV

1988: The visitor centre opens

1998: The Talisker whisky becomes part of Scotland's classic malt series,

Useful Talisker links:

Talisker at ScotchWhisky

Talisker at MaltMadness

Talisker at Whisky

Talisker at Wikipedia

Talisker at WhiskyPortal

Talisker at MasterOfMalts

Talisker at WhiskyExhange

Talisker at SMWS

Talisker at Wormtub

Talisker at Whiskybase

Can I tour Talisker?

Yes Talisker distillery is tourable. On Trip Advisor the distillery has been rated as excellent by 939 of 2,019 tours to date. This gives Talisker an overall rating of 4.0

Latest reviews

Great Tour! by Kelly F

Great tour of the distillery. We had a great guide, Kerr, and he was super welcoming and knowledgable. Great intro to scotch making and fun tasting at the end too. Plus they give you 10% off in their gift shop if you do the tour. Really great experience.

Brilliant Tour by Charlotte P

Brilliant tour with a knowledgeable guide in Graham, ending in a great tasting. Highly recommend when visiting Skye or the west coast.

Very Interesting Tour and Tasting by Al

We thoroughly enjoyed our tasting and tour around the small but special distillery. Our tour guide was very informative and good to chat to. We loved the tasting and quite

Rating Reviews
Excellent 939
Very good 652
Average 282
Poor 84
Terrible 64